NRA Smallbore Competition

Smallbore or rimfire rifle shooting is low power, shorter distance shooting than high power rifle competitions, which mostly use centerfire rifles. This doesnt mean it is not as challenging! Rimfire shooting matches are set up for closer range shooting, but are just as challenging on accuracy and skill.

Course of Fire 

According to National Rifle Association (NRA) regulations, smallbore rifle competition is held over distances of 50 feet, 50 yards/meters, and/or 100 yards. Match competition can be as quick as 30 shots (10 shots prone, standing, kneeling) in a league or as long as 40 shots at the National Championships. Competition is conducted in as many as four positions - prone, sitting, kneeling, and standing - to as few as one - prone only or standing only. Section 7 of the NRA Smallbore Rifle Rule Book discusses all courses of fire recognized by NRA, while section 17 covers all courses of fire recognized for national records. Smallbore rifle competitions may be fired outdoors or indoors. 

A group of matches added together for a total aggregate score is called a tournament. These can be held locally, statewide, regionally or nationally. 


Although ultimate investments can be substantial, most shooters start with a minimum investment of a .22 caliber rifle (new or used), spotting scope with stand, sling, glove and shooting coat, and most important, eye and ear protection. Other specialty equipment may be used and some of these pieces of equipment can be essential depending on the type of competition in which you wish to become involved. In addition to those already mentioned, this could include a shooting mat, kneeling roll, shooting pants, shooting boots and others too varied to mention. The purchase of such equipment often depends only on personal preference. Wearing safety glasses and hearing protection are common sense safeguards to use with any shooting activity. 

The rifle can fit in either the light rifle or match rifle categories, according to NRA regulations. Whichever rifle you select, be sure it will be suited for the rules of the particular type of shooting you wish to do. A reliable gun dealer is most helpful in selecting a proper rifle. Remember, a used rifle for a beginner is not a bad idea if the dealer can certify the condition of the rifle. The selection of rifle sights is also best made after checking the NRA rules; the purchase of good quality sights for whatever type of shooting is a sound investment. 

The spotting scope/stand is another important piece of equipment that allows you to check your target from a distance. Spotting scopes are precision optical instruments (often you get what you pay for). Scope stands should be suited for the job you will want them to do. Gun cases are necessary in some areas to comply with local laws and are used to protect your rifle as you travel to and from the range. 

Ammunition used in this competition is often standard velocity ammunition, which will shoot more accurately than will high velocity. If you wish to become more competitive, tournament quality ammunition best suited to your particular gun will give the best results.

Further Information 

NRA Rifle Dept.
Phone:  (703) 267-1475

NRA Bookstore
Phone:  (800) 336-7402

(Material courtesy of National Shooting Sports Foundation)